oh yes, friends, i went there.
and you know what? it wasn’t my first time going there, either.
i’ve made different iterations of bacon cupcakes a handful of times in the past few years, and they’re all quite delicious. usually i make ‘em as birthday treats for boys, because as it turns out, guys really dig bacon.
these itty bitty maple bacon cupcakes are without a doubt the best version i’ve made yet. hands down!
this month, the Recipe Swap hosted by Christianna of Burwell General Store turns one! happy birthday Recipe Swap! i joined the group a few months ago and have had such a blast re-imagining a new vintage recipe each month. i love getting the monthly e-mail in my inbox and opening it excitedly, wondering what old-timey recipe will serve as inspiration for the coming month. such fun!
this month’s recipe was for Maple Cake, which is pretty much perfect for November. i lovelovelove maple syrup so much. the real stuff, mind you, not that faux maple-flavored corn syrup sold on the shelves as “pancake syrup.” that stuff makes my skin crawl. it just tastes so…artificial.
guys, i even have a pancakes & syrup scented candle. seriously. it’s pretty much my favorite thing in the universe.
while i know that pure maple syrup is a bit pricey, a little bit goes a long way. when Ryan and i first started dating, i’d make him breakfast every Sunday morning. scientific fact: boys like it when you make them breakfast, especially when said breakfast includes from-scratch buttermilk pancakes, perfectly crisp, thick slices of bacon and eggs over easy, yolks just barely set. oh yeah.
my wooing tactics are pretty solid. i can totally see why he asked me to marry him!
anyhow. like most bachelor boys, Ryan only had pancake syrup in his fridge. i was a little terrified by the amount of said syrup he poured atop his breakfast…and a little miffed, too! i mean, i had cooked my little heart out, developing amazing flavors to create a ridiculously delicious breakfast, and he was pretty much muting all of those flavors with pancake syrup. sad.
i made sure to bring over some of the good stuff the next time i made him breakfast. Ryan was hesitant; the maple syrup i brought him was a deep, dark amber; thick and rich and viscous. his familiar pancake syrup, by comparison was thin and runny; only one or two shades away from being clear.
i told him to drizzle a tiny bit onto his pancakes, since even a small amount of pure maple syrup is rich and sweet and so flavorful. he was way skeptical. i guess i would be too, if i’d spent my life drowning my pancakes in syrup!
i’m pretty sure he was a believer after one bite.
the moral of the story is that you should really invest in pure maple syrup. it’s natural, healthier, and tastes worlds better than that overly-sweet faux maple pancake syrup. yuck.
i think we can all agree that the best part about breakfast is bacon covered in maple syrup, yes? yes. i love getting a bite of bacon and pancake on a fork, and dragging that slowly through the shallow pool of maple syrup on the plate.
that’s exactly what these cupcakes taste like. totally heavenly.
maple cupcakes with tiny bits of applewood-smoked bacon. maple vanilla bean buttercream piped on top. a piece of maple-candied bacon for garnish. it’s pretty much perfect.
happy birthday, Recipe Swap!
be sure to check out my fellow recipe swapper’s interpretations of the Maple Cake below!
maple bacon mini cupcakes
Yield: 24 mini cupcakes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
for the maple bacon cupcakes
2 strips bacon, frozen (it will be MUCH easier to dice up this way!)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose ﬂour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup pure maple syrup, at room temperature
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/4 cup heavy cream (feel free to substitute milk or half & half!)
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
for the maple vanilla bean buttercream>
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup confectionersʼ sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup, at room temperature
2 teaspoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
2 strips bacon
2 tablespoons maple syrup
for the maple bacon cupcakes
preheat the oven to 350 degrees F with a rack in the center of the oven.
place mini cupcake liners into mini muffin tins, and set aside.
using a sharp chef's knife, dice the frozen bacon strips into small cubes. you really only need to freeze the bacon for about 20 minutes or so, just so it firms up a bit. that way, it's much easier to dice up safely!
place a small saute pan over medium heat, and add the diced bacon to the pan. saute over medium heat until bacon is browned and crisp, about 3-5 minutes.
when the bacon is browned, remove the pan from the heat and allow the bacon bits to drain on a paper towel-lined plate. set aside.
sift the flour and baking powder into a small bowl and set aside.
in a medium bowl, beat the unsalted butter at room temperature with a spatula until soft and creamy, about 1 minute.
slowly drizzle in the maple syrup a bit at a time and beat to combine with the butter until smooth and well-incorporated, about 1-2 minutes.
add the egg to the butter-maple syrup mixture, and beat until well-combined, about 30 seconds.
add the sifted dry ingredients to the bowl, and mix until just blended and combined, about 30 seconds.
add the heavy cream and vanilla, and beat until combined and smooth, about 20 seconds.
fold the bacon bits into the batter, stirring to distribute them throughout.
using either a teaspoon or a small portion scoop (mine is a #70, which holds a little over 2 teaspoons), portion the batter into the lined mini muffin tins, filling about 3/4 the way up the sides.
bake at 350 degrees F for 14-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the mini cupcakes comes out clean.
remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before carefully transferring to a wire baking rack and allowing to cool completely before frosting.
the mini cupcakes will keep, unfrosted and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
for the maple vanilla bean buttercream
in a small bowl, beat the butter with a spatula until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.
add the confectioners’ sugar and carefully mix together until combined, about 30 seconds.
add the maple syrup, and beat to combine.
add the heavy cream and vanilla bean paste, and beat with spatula until well-combined and fluffy, about 30 seconds.
for the candied bacon
preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
line a small baking sheet with tin foil and lay bacon strips on top.
pour about half the maple syrup on the bacon strips and rub it in with your fingers. flip the bacon over and repeat with the remaining maple syrup.
place the pan in the oven and cook the bacon for about 10-15 minutes, until brown and crisp on the edges.
remove the bacon from the oven. using tongs, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. pat the top of the bacon lightly with a paper towel to absorb any excess grease.
after about 30 seconds of training, transfer the bacon to a cutting board and allow to cool for about 15 minutes.
after 15 minutes, use a sharp chef’s knife to chop the bacon into 1/2” wide strips. allow to cool to room temperature.
assembling the cupcakes>
transfer the maple vanilla bean buttercream to a piping bag with a small tip fitted in. if you don’t have a piping bag, you can use a disposable zip-top bag, or simply frost the cupcakes with an offset spatula or butterknife.
frost each mini cupcake with the buttercream, and garnish with a cooled strip of candied bacon.
the maple bacon cupcakes are best enjoyed immediately, but can be refrigerated for up to 3 days and brought to room temperature prior to serving.
a food + words original